BC is renowned apple growing country, but here on the coast we have our challenges. This is why my favourite apple is a variety called Liberty.
In the interior of BC the climate is excellent for growing apples, with cold (but not TOO cold) winters and hot, dry summers. Here on the coast winter provides the necessary chill hours for good fruit production, but our long, cool, wet spring promotes the growth of a number of fungal diseases to which apples are prone, so for those of us who don’t want to spray regularly, disease resistant apple cultivars are best. No matter how tasty Cox’s Orange Pippin may be, it’s disheartening when the fruit are malformed, cracked, scabby and sparse.
The cultivar ‘Liberty’ resulted from a cross, ‘Macoun’ x Purdue 54-12, made in 1955, and released to the public in 1974. The medium-sized fruit are red-skinned over a yellow base; the flesh is yellowish in color, juicy, crisp and fine, with a well-balanced sweet-tart flavour.
Liberty is immune to scab, resistant to cedar apple rust and has fairly good resistance to fire blight. This is, as Martha might say, a good thing, because in my garden it’s unlikely to get sprayed, mostly because I don’t get around to it.
You can really see the difference between my disease resistant Liberty Apple and the two espaliered apples planted along my pergola. Not only are the fruit larger and free of cracks and scabby nastiness, but the leaves are big, lush and green, and the new growth is sturdy, not spindly.
I love my apple espaliers, they’re beautiful in form, but half the fruit that grows is unusable and ends up fodder for the chickens. A shame really, I’m tempted to replace some of the limbs by grafting in disease resistant varieties and deleting the weak. It might happen, at some point.
In the meantime I have lots of apples from my beautiful, disease resistant Liberty Apple. They are delicious fresh and make a lovely apple-blackberry crisp. The only drawback with this variety is that (apparently)it doesn’t keep long, but I wouldn’t know, we always eat them up before I can assess their storage qualities. Of course my Liberty Apple has only been in the garden for three seasons, eventually it will produce more fruit than we can eat up in a few weeks!